Barnardo’s has won an award for best overall e-learning programme at the Charity Learning Awards this year due to both its dedication and efforts to support a large number of users compared with the size of the learning and development team.
Judges were also particularly impressed with the children's charity's innovative approach to learning, and its team of five was praised for employing a range of creative initiatives in order to support the development of 7,500 staff and volunteers at 400 sites across the UK.
For instance, after the L&D team analysed calls to the organisation's helpdesk, it produced a number of online fact sheets based on frequently asked questions. The number of 'how to' calls fell by 50% as a direct result.
But the team was also commended for embracing many different types of learning technologies, including virtual classrooms, video, wikis and an online learning community, on top of the e-learning tools mentioned. For example, new recruits are provided with a 45-minute virtual classroom session in order to introduce them to Barnardo’s IT systems. They are also shown how to access the charity’s learning resources and support services.
Lisa Johnson, Barnardo’s IT learning and development manager, said: "E-Learning and the use of other learning technologies has had a major impact on the way we support IT users within our organisation. Sixty per cent of our delivery is now online."
All e-learning courses are delivered via a customised Charity Learning Consortium
web site. Barnardo's claimed that adopting learning technologies had helped it to train 54% more learners in 2010/2011 than in 2006/07.
But the key reason behind this success was the L&D team’s ability to listen to the challenges that learners faced and to develop viable solutions to their problems. This policy had had a noticeable impact on the organisation’s learning culture, Johnson said.
"Initially, our staff were reluctant to try e-learning and felt isolated. But by introducing individual learning contracts, team-based learning and promoting learning in small bite-sized modules, we helped people overcome their concerns," she added.
When the L&D team first introduced virtual classrooms, learners were anxious, but after attending only one session, they were hooked and other staff have since signed up to the scheme.
"As an alternative to requesting 'training', staff are also now choosing self-directed learning. Instead of staff saying, 'I need a course,' the enquiry is now, 'where can I find a learning resource that will help me do x?' This is a major shift forward," Johnson said.